Denise Goldberg's blog

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

clouds in a puddle

Finding water in unexpected places is wonderful. I was delighted with the clouds reflecting in a puddle in Valley of Fire State Park.


Monday, December 15, 2014

last light

This afternoon's setting sun highlighted the clouds, painting pictures in the sky.

It was a good end to a very quick wander in Death Valley, a sign that it was time to head to the airport.

sunset, Death Valley

to California!

I was right when I said today was going to be a long day... our destination for the day was Death Valley National Park.

The drive is just under 2 hours so even though we traversed the route twice it still gave us a good number of hours to wander in the park. Denise said it was a day of ever-changing light. Sometimes it was mostly cloudy and boring, sometimes the light was pure magic.

My favorite walking spot today was the Salt Creek Trail. It's a boardwalk trail and you're supposed to stay on the boardwalk - but at the furthest point there is a big block of wood that serves as a step down and a trail that continues beyond the boardwalk. I don't know if people are supposed to walk there but there was a narrow worn trail and I decided it was a good spot for bouncing. Denise followed me (and there were clearly people there before us) so I suppose it must have been OK. We walked and walked on the flat surface and eventually came to more water. I really like seeing the water in the desert. It feels like it shouldn't be there at all, and that makes it seem special.

--- Rover
beyond Salt Creek, Death Valley

Sunday, December 14, 2014

around and around

I hope you don't mind that I'm writing again today; I thought Denise needed a longer writing break!

Today was a day for staying close to our home away from home, a wander without driving too far. Our play spots for the day were Red Rock Canyon and Spring Mountain Ranch, a state park that is just a few miles down the road from the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop road. Spring Mountain Ranch has a separate entrance fee since it's part of the state park system but it turns out that the park is located inside of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. I think that's interesting, don't you?

We started in Red Rock Canyon with some morning walks and a loop around the Scenic Drive. Our first walking stop was the Calico Tanks trail. That's the trail that we started on Friday but turned back when it started raining. Our turnaround point was a bit further down the trail but not quite to the end. We turned around at a point where there are lots of tumbled down rocks since Denise tends not to climb over anything that she thinks might cause difficulty on the way back. The light was very different today, sunshine and blue skies instead of Friday's gray and rain.

Before we finished the loop road (the first time!) we stopped to hike a trail starting at Willow Springs. It started up an unmaintained dirt road and then moved to a loose rock-covered wide trail. We walked and walked, heading uphill a bit, then reversed direction to return to the start.

Next stop, Spring Mountain Ranch... there's a lake in the park that sometimes has interesting reflections in it - and Denise always likes reflections! I knew we had to stop at Lake Harriet sometime during this trip. It didn't disappoint; the water very picked up the color of the sky and there were trees reflecting in the water too.

We headed back into Red Rock Canyon to do some more walking. We drove partway around the loop road, leaving the car in the Sandstone Quarry parking lot. Part of our time was spent walking, part was spent watching people climbing up the very red rocks. Did you know that Red Rock Canyon is one of the top climbing destinations in the country? There were people climbing straight up the rock faces, wow!

I'm glad we didn't drive too far today because tomorrow is going to be a very long traveling day. We'll be driving to our hiking spot for the day, wandering, driving back, and then flying home overnight. Hmm... with a flight time of 11:55 PM we have more than a full day to play here. Maybe Denise will be so tired she will be able to sleep on the plane.

--- Rover
Red Rock Canyon
looking across Red Rock Canyon

trees reflecting, at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
reflections in Lake Harriet, at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

Saturday, December 13, 2014

fire and water

Oh! I thought it was going to be dry all day today but there was an early afternoon surprise from the weather wizard.

Our wandering spot for today was Valley of Fire State Park. It's a very reasonable drive, a bit over an hour each way. We headed out early in the morning under a sky colored (mostly) blue and white. When we arrived at the park there the sun was hiding behind some clouds. It popped in and out, sometimes lighting the beautiful red rocks, sometimes leaving a somewhat muted landscape.

After a quick stop at the Visitor Center we headed up and up, following the out-and-back road through red rocks as it followed a curving path through the landscape, rolling up and down and side to side. We stopped at most of the little parking lots along the way, popping out of the car to absorb the beauty.

At the end of (the short) Fire Canyon Road there was a path that wore a sign "This is not a trail". Hmm... Denise looked a little further and found a blocked off dirt road that we could walk down for some new views. From the road we saw a trail coming back but since Denise was pretty sure it was going to end at the sign saying it wasn't a trail we stuck to the dirt road. While it's OK to walk on rocks, on established trails, or on the roads (dirt or paved), the park service is trying to prevent erosion wherever possible.

Our next stop was the Fire Wave trail. That's a very cool hike, and one where you need to pay attention to the trail markers. The beginning of the trail is easy to find since it traverses sand, but once you step onto the rock it's important to know how to find your way (both out and back again). The trail is marked with plastic (rectangular) wands that are sometimes stuck in the ground and sometimes surrounded by piled up rocks. The top of the dark brown wand wears a square of yellow. It's usually pretty easy to see the next trail marker. I helped Denise keep track of them since I know she likes to know how to get back at the end of our walks. I'm very glad that Denise likes walking the Fire Wave trail as much as I do!

We continued to the end of the road where we stared walking the White Domes trail. The start of the trail is a sandy steep downhill with some rock slabs serving as steps. The steps were pretty big so I decided to jump into the Denise's camera pack and take a ride down. Once we reached the low point of the trail I jumped out so I could bounce through the slot canyon through which the trail wanders. Then... oops! I started feeling rain drops. It started as sprinkles but it quickly turned into a downpour. I jumped back into the pack, and so did the camera, yikes! Denise covered the bag with a rain cover and started walking quickly. We were about half of the way around the 1.25 mile trail so there was nothing to be done except keep moving forward. Of course since we didn't think it was going to rain Denise's rain jacket stayed in the car. She had a light jacket with her but it was a jacket without a hood. By the time we got back to the car the water was rolling off of her head. I tried not to laugh, but it was really pretty funny! Soon after we jumped into the car the rain changed to sprinkles.

Turning back, we again stopped whenever the light and scenery pulled Denise's eyes.

Before we left Valley of Fire we saw an announcement for a special New Year's Eve moonlight hike in the park. I wish we could be there but it's really too far to fly here for a day.

Even though Denise got a bit wet we had a really good day today.

--- Rover
heading back from The Wave (trail), Valley of Fire State Park
on the way back from The Wave, at Valley of Fire State Park

Friday, December 12, 2014

under a changing sky

Today started under skies wearing gray and interesting clouds.

It was dry when we headed out, starting our wandering along the Calico Hills trail that is below some very interesting painted rocks in Red Rock Canyon. Oh, no one really painted the rocks... there are sections that are bright red and other sections that show swirls of red and white. I think they are very pretty!

After climbing the hill from the trail back up to the road we realized that the weather was moving in. There were clouds hanging on the mountains, coming lower and lower. We jumped back into the car to drive to our next walking spot and the rain started. It was pretty light at first so we headed out on the Calico Tanks trail. The rain got heavier. After a bit Denise decided it would be smarter to turn back, so we did.

The road through Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a one-way loop. We drove and drove, stopping occasionally at view points, sitting a bit to watch the rain. I even asked Denise if I could take a photo to show you the rain!

raindrops on windshield

When we started out this morning the temperature was in the high 50s. When I took the photo looking through the car into the thermometer said that it had dropped to 42. The thing that I think is a bit odd is that when we headed back to our hotel it seemed to get warmer. Hmm... I wonder if we were just in a place where there was a cold wind blowing.

We stopped at Red Spring after finishing the loop road. That put us on the other side of the Calico Hills. I think it's interesting to see the other side! A lighter rain was falling by then, still wet enough to convince us to take a short(er) walk.

Having a shorter walking day as our first day out might be a good thing. After all, yesterday was a really long day if you factor in a longer day since we jumped back three time zones!

--- Rover

at Red Rock Canyon

Thursday, December 11, 2014


It's a little after 7 PM and we're sitting at Logan Airport waiting to board our plane. It's at the gate now and people are streaming out. Soon the people flow will change directions and we'll be boarding and then flying. It's a long flight, scheduled for over 6 hours. I told Denise it might be good if she takes a nap; I'm not sure that she is listening though.

Our trip to the airport took a little longer than expected. There is a lift bridge near the place where we park and the bridge was UP. Oh yikes! We sat waiting and waiting, then Denise figured out how to jump up a little further and then turn into the parking lot. Phew! I think we could easily have been there for a quite a while.

Before we left the house we had a late afternoon snack of yogurt and fruit. I didn't think that was enough food... I guess Denise thought the same because we stopped at Legal Seafood (in the airport terminal) for some clam chowder. That was a treat!

Airplane time soon... we'll board, sit down, take off, fly for hours, then land in Las Vegas. Tomorrow we'll start our wanders in beautiful parks. I'm happy!

--- Rover

patterns in green

Indoor conservatories feed my need for color during the cold months. Patterns of (green) leaves across leaves grabbed my eyes as I wandered at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens last weekend.

patterns in green

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

autumn color

Most of the trees are wearing bare branches now in anticipation of winter. In the sea of "no color" a few bright leaves still pop from the quiet background.

a splash of orange

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

black ice

My phone rang at just after six this morning. No one calls at that time of day!

The call was a robocall from the town where I live warning that the town roads are currently sheathed in black ice. That made for a very quick decision; my work day today will start by remote connection, from home. As the temperature warms up I'll head in to the office.

Sometimes robocalls are good.